Entertainment

2021 Grammy Nominees and Predictions: A Good Year for Women in Music

2021 GrammyThe nominations for the 63rd Grammy Awards have been announced, and—oh boy—there are a lot of them.

The host of the ceremony—comedian Trevor Noah—and the nominees were announced in a virtual presentation early in the afternoon on November 24 by a swathe of stars from within and without the music industry: Megan Thee Stallion, Dua Lipa, Gayle King, Sharon Osbourne, etc.

Beyoncé got nine nominations, including two for Record of the Year for her own “Black Parade” and her feature on Megan Thee Stallion’s TikTok hit “Savage.” Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift, and Roddy Ricch also garnered a not-disappointing six nominations each. Perennial favorites like Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, and Justin Bieber could also perform respectably at the awards, which take place Jan. 31, 2021.

Newcomers to the Grammy scene include Phoebe Bridgers, nominated for Best Rock Album, who I was surprised (but not upset) to see had blown up so quickly, having listened (and maybe cried) to her before. Frankly, I think she’s set to win this, although she is up against quite a few other phenomenal female musicians; in fact, most of the nominees in the category are women.

While I personally would give the award to the HAIM sisters for Women in Music, Pt. III if the Grammys were being held right now, I think Bridgers’ brand of softer folk rock was more resonant with people over the past year, and her album Punisher will end up besting the other nominees.

Speaking of folk crossovers, Taylor Swift had a stellar year with her #1 album Folklore, which had a hit with “Cardigan.” Nominated respectively for Album and Song of the Year, these works really epitomize a folksy style that I can feel becoming increasingly en vogue for mainstream music.

Before diving into my predictions for the “Big Four” Grammys (Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist), it’s worth mentioning that there is gaping Weeknd-shaped hole in the nominee list. For some strange reason, the Canadian singer was invisible to the Recording Academy, and his incredibly popular “Blinding Lights” was snubbed. I know, I think it’s a shame, too.

Anyway…

Record and Song of the Year get muddied up and conflated sometimes, but the basic difference is this: Record of the Year goes to the recording artist(s), while Song of the Year goes to the songwriter(s).

There are some nominees in these categories who I honestly don’t think have much of a chance at winning, as much as I may like them. For Record of the Year, these are “Circles” by Post Malone, “Rockstar” by DaBaby and Roddy Ricch, and (I really hate to say it) “Colors” by Black Pumas. Before the nominations, I actually had never heard of Black Pumas, but I actually caught “Colors” on public radio while they were actively being announced. It blew me away, and I said to myself that if a record like this could win Record of the Year it would be something special.

In reality, though, the Grammys are in some aspects a popularity contest. And, thanks to the huge rise in usership of a certain video-sharing app, there are two ways I see Record of the Year going. On one hand, the Academy could give the award to Megan Thee Stallion; she has quickly become a major player in the industry after appearances and endorsements from other major players, namely Beyoncé, who appears on Megan’s Grammy-nommed TikTok hit “Savage.” On the other hand, my official prediction is “Say So,” the gorgeously produced and sung sleeper hit by Doja Cat. This song has arguably the same level of hype as “Savage,” but takes it in a much more mellow, R&B-inspired direction, and I think the award will ultimately end up going to Doja Cat.

As for Song of the Year, I think the Academy will take their decisions in another direction still. Out of the Song of the Year nominees, four are not also nominated for Record: “The Box” by Roddy Ricch, “Cardigan,” “I Can’t Breathe” by H.E.R., and “If the World Was Ending” by JP Saxe featuring Julia Michaels. Personally, I see Song of the Year as a contest that’s more about lyrics than how good a song sounds. “Say So,” for example, isn’t nominated for Song. H.E.R. is a relative newbie to the Grammys, but is no stranger to penning beautiful and powerful words and converting them to music. Especially in a year plagued by racial division, I see H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe” as the perfect contender for the Song of the Year, as it were.

While there are some deserving noms in the Album of the Year Category (HAIM, Black Pumas, Post Malone, Jhené Aiko , and others), I think that there’s about a 90 percent chance that either Folklore or Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia ultimately takes home the award. Even if she doesn’t win, it’s hard to say that 2020 wasn’t a great year for at least Dua Lipa’s career. I think Taylor Swift will probably eke out the win in the end, but Dua Lipa should definitely be proud of herself for crafting an album that manages to be energetic and authentic at the same time.

Finally, an award that is somewhat strange regarding its nomination criteria: Best New Artist. To help you picture what I mean, a question: Why is Phoebe Bridgers nominated for the award when her first album came out in 2017? The criteria are a bit unclear since a recent rule change, but I digress.

Billie Eilish won the award last year, much to no one’s surprise, but this year the nominees are somewhat more varied. Based on the nominations in other categories, I would bet a steak dinner that the award will go to Bridgers, Doja Cat, or Megan Thee Stallion. I will go on record as saying that I feel like Megan Thee Stallion does have a slight advantage over the other two, as she was also an integral part of the immensely popular “WAP” with Cardi B.

2020 was an amazing year for women in all genres of music. From Grammy sweethearts like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Billie Eilish to newcomers like Phoebe Bridgers, Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, women have released some truly listen-worthy music this year, and I think it’s a wonderful thing to hear these diverse voices and seeing them receive recognition for making themselves heard.

As it stands right now, my predictions for the “Big Four” Grammys are: “Say So” by Doja Cat for Record of the Year, “I Can’t Breathe” by H.E.R. for Song of the Year, Folklore by Taylor Swift for Album of the Year, and Megan Thee Stallion for Best New Artist.

IMAGE TAKEN from The New York Times